The coolest thing about Incarnate is the premise. In the land of Range, since the beginning of mankind, the soul of each human being has been reincarnated again and again. Once a person dies, he or she is reincarnated several years later with an entirely different body–even, occasionally, a different gender. Every single person has lived hundreds of lifetimes. There are no strangers. Unfortunately for Ana, our protagonist, she is the first new soul born in five thousand years, taking the place of another, someone who will never be born again. Consequently, the majority of the population of Range has despised Ana since her birth.
At the start of Incarnate, 18-year-old Ana is traveling to the city of Heart, having finally left the home of her abusive mother, Li. She is determined to find the answers to the question that has bothered her since she became aware of her difference: Why do I exist? Along the way, she encounters sylphs (I imagine them as white dementors), one of the many races of magical creatures in Range, and meets and befriends Sam, a handsome musician. In Heart, she faces unseen enemies, dragon attacks, and coming to terms with her own self-worth.
I wanted to read this book because of the premise and because it’s genre defying. The sylphs and dragons (there are dragons) place it firmly in fantasy. The reincarnation and somewhat technological/futuristic setting place it in utopia or science fiction. However, the premise did not save the book for me. I found the characters unlikable and the overall plot disappointing. For me, the writing falls short of its lofty literary attempts.
I don’t mind that Ana’s different, but she still has to be likable. I understand that she’s a new soul and has all this potential, and I like the idea of her being new and therefore able to be anything she wants to be. But she complains all the time and worries constantly over her seemingly small potential for reincarnation after her current life–what happened to the theme of living once and therefore making the best of it? She places more importance on the opinions of Sam and others than she does on her own. The main plot of Ana coming to terms with her existence is overshadowed by the romance. Sam constantly removes hair from Ana’s face, which apparently means he loves her. There’s entirely too much hair removing and one shoulder shrugging.
By the end of the book, I was rooting for the dragons.
I’m giving this book one star for the premise and one star for the marketing. I really thought I’d like this book because lots of people seem to like it. Even though it wasn’t for me, I’m still going to give Incarnate‘s sequel a look; I’m interested in seeing where the author takes her intriguing premise.
If Axie were a book, she would be a young adult one featuring a kick-butt heroine in a fantastical setting, or maybe a middle-grade one about a boy coming-of-age (even though she is a 21 year old female). She likes to eat, watch shows (reality t.v., Korean dramas, and anime), read, read, read, sleep, and then dream (in that order). You probably can’t find her lolling about online, since her online presence is sorely lacking, but she is very friendly and would speak to you if you spoke to her.